On Thursday, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced five ethics reform bills that he felt would actually “drain the swamp” in Washington ,D.C. Sasse explained, “Everybody talks about draining the swamp but nobody actually does it. Both parties talk a big game on the campaign trail, but then look the other way as soon they get a taste of power. These bills are going chafe both parties and, frankly, that’s the only way this gets done.”
Sasse’s legislation would:
1. Prohibit cabinet members and their immediate family from soliciting donations from foreign sources;
Sasse wrote in an op-ed in USA Today, “If you hold one of the highest and most sensitive positions in the executive branch, there should not be any question about who you’re working for. There should not be any temptation to exploit your office for financial gain. No more Clintons using high office to line their own pockets.”
2. Require that presidential and vice-presidential candidates’ tax returns are disclosed:
Sasse explained, “Every presidential nominee prior to 2016 understood that voters deserve basic information about the financial situation of their potential chief executive. We’re going to make sure they can get it.”
3. Create a public database of congressional HR settlements, make disclosure quicker, and increase personal financial liability for members of Congress;
Sasse remarked, “When a congressman or senator settles a personnel issue — whether the issue is harassment, discrimination, or some other misconduct — basic information about that settlement ought to be immediately available, with victims first having the opportunity to protect their identities through redaction. Members need to pay settlements out of their own pockets and need to reimburse the taxpayer-funded Office of Compliance for administrative costs too. In the era of #MeToo, voters should be able to expect transparency from their representatives when accusations of improper conduct are settled. At the end of the day, giving constituents information is the best way to make sure that elected representatives are held accountable.”
4. Prohibit members of Congress from buying or selling stocks during their time in office;
More Sasse: “Voters should not have to ask whether their congressman supported a piece of legislation because it was good for his personal investment portfolio. Prohibiting them from buying and selling stocks is an easy way to cut down on that temptation. Members of Congress are supposed to do what’s best for their constituents, not their 401K.
5. Institute a lifetime ban on members of Congress making money lobbying.
Sasse concluded, “One principle of our small-r republican government is that we have citizen-representatives, not a permanent class of political elites. But in Washington today, we have a legislator-to-lobbyist pipeline, and that’s cutting out the input of constituents and others who can’t, or refuse to, pay to play. Getting elected to the U.S. Congress should be an opportunity to serve your constituents and the country, not a stepping-stone to a cushy job on K Street. Washington, D.C., is full of officials from both parties who are more interested in protecting their positions — and growing their pocketbooks — than in carrying out their constitutional responsibilities.”